Dear Sex Counselor,
I'm a 19 year old woman. I'm attractive and have had two relationships with girls. I find myself attracted to a girlfriend but don't know how to tell her without ruining our friendship. I find myself dressing sexy for her, but she is not responding. Please help.
You've asked a really great question! Many of us find it really hard to tell someone we are attracted to her, because we are afraid it will alter our relationship with her from that time on. Unfortunately, you are faced with either trying to drop hints (dressing sexy), stuffing your feelings, or taking the leap and hoping it turns out okay.
I would suggest you might start out by asking your friend whether she's ever thought about being lovers with a woman. This will allow you to start the conversation, at least in an abstract way. If she says, "yuck, no way" then you may want to consider looking elsewhere for your feelings to be returned. If she hesitates, or says "well, yes, I could imagine that" or even better, then you know your interest has the possibility of being shared.
Then I would carefully, but honestly, tell her that you are attracted to her, if you really feel you want to pursue more than a friendship with her. Nonverbal hints may not be very effective, and you could find yourself getting very frustrated by her lack of understanding. You might want to say something like, "I really like you, and hope you can hear this without it harming our friendship ..." then something about your attraction and your wondering if she might share that. It's possible that she might actually be thinking about you in the same way, and doesn't know how to say so (this happened to me, and my partner took the plunge and said, "I don't know how you're going to feel about this, but ..." to which I enthusiastically responded, "Thank goodness you feel the same way I do!")
The only way to ever know is to try to talk with her about it. It's true that if she does not share your affections, she may pull away as a friend, but we all take those kinds of risks, and the potential gain is often worth the risk.
So, plan what you want to say, let her know that you really value her as a friend, regardless of whether she is open to a romance with you or not, and reassure her that your friendship is not going to change if she doesn't share your interest. After hearing of your affection, she may be worried that you will be thinking of her only in sexual terms, so you might want to reassure her that you won't be doing that. Then say what's in your heart, and if she shares some of your feelings, maybe she'll be relieved and glad to have it out there where both of you can act on it. Good luck!
The Sex Counselor